January 15, 2021 by John Fernandez
Upgraded MammoVan: Helping More Women With Breast Cancer Screenings
South Florida’s iconic, customized van that offers state-of-the-art mammograms has been upgraded with a new-generation vehicle. But the mission remains the same for the highly trained technicians and radiologists on board the Kathryn Krickstein Pressel MammoVan: Provide women throughout the community with mammograms, even if affordability is an issue.
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there’s a bigger focus on the ongoing goal of getting more women screened, especially those who may be intimidated by going to a hospital setting, explains professional golfer Morgan Pressel, who made the launch of the MammoVan possible ten years ago through her contributions, along with the Morgan Pressel Foundation and St. Andrews Country Club.
Watch now: Hear from professional golfer Morgan Pressel, who made the launch of the MammoVan possible ten years ago. (Video by Dylan Kyle.)
Ms. Pressel, 31, who currently plays on the LPGA tour, was only 11 when her 39-year-old mother Kathryn Krickstein Pressel was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died four years later. As a 12-year-old, Ms. Pressel became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open.
“We’re really proud to have this mammography vehicle that’s traveling around South Florida, the only one offering this service to our community,” says Ms. Pressel, who is from Boca Raton. “Take advantage of it and encourage your friends to take advantage of it.”
The Kathryn Krickstein Pressel MammoVan typically travels 10,000 miles and visits close to 200 sites each year. Since 2010, the MammoVan has performed more than 16,000 mammograms and diagnosed 59 women with cancer. The MammoVan is an extension of the care provided at the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
“Some people think that because it’s a van that, it’s not the same technology or not the same equipment that they get at a hospital. But … it is exactly the same,” explains Ms. Pressel. “There is zero difference. It’s the same highly trained technicians. It’s the same exact equipment. And it’s the same radiologists that are reading the scans and giving you your diagnosis.”
Here is more from Ms. Pressel about the inspiration for the MammoVan and its vital community role.
What inspired you to raise funds to make the MammoVan a reality?
“We have a few years of raising money under our belts for breast cancer specific initiatives, and we knew we wanted to partner with our local hospital, Boca Raton Regional. We’re a very South Florida-based organization. A lot of the funds come out of St. Andrews Country Club which has been supportive of our efforts from the very beginning. So, we really wanted to make a difference right in our backyard. And when we were looking at different opportunities, there were things, like obviously equipment … things that we could do specifically in the hospital. But then the MammoVan became this idea that that really pulled me in and said: This is different.
“This is something that I’ve never even really heard of before. I didn’t even know what a MammoVan was and I just said that this is the direction that we need to go. Now, we’re on our second MammoVan after almost 10 years since the first MammoVan became a reality (and) having it named in honor of my mother. Every once in a while, I pass it on I-95 and I think: It’s really going out into the neighborhoods where we live and making a difference in those women’s lives.”
Why did you choose to work with the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute on this initiative?
“I’m from Boca Raton. I learned how to play golf in Boca Raton. It’s my home and my community. And it’s the community of the majority of our supporters. Through all of our donors and all of our supporters, especially St. Andrews Country Club, we wanted to do something locally and Boca Raton Regional Hospital was really the natural fit for us. It’s been a great, years-long partnership, where we’ve had a lot of different and very successful initiatives that we’ve launched. To know that it’s possible that we are helping people that we don’t know all right in our backyard, I think that’s one of my favorite things that we do — that it is all local in South Florida.”
How do you feel the MammoVan makes mammography more accessible?
“I think mammography is something that can be very intimidating for a lot of women. I actually had one experience that was quite eye-opening to me. I knew that the MammoVan was definitely more convenient and could come to your workplace. But I was doing an event in the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness month and this one employee where we were doing the event came out walking towards the MammoVan. I didn’t understand what was happening at first. When she was asked when was her last mammogram, the woman admitted that she never had one. And she was 53-years-old. She was so nervous walking out to get her first mammogram, but her co-workers were there supporting her and really encouraged her to go get that mammogram. I believe that the test was negative, but just to think that sometimes there’s that one hurdle. She may have never gone in to get her mammogram had it been in the hospital — maybe never.
“The MammoVan just makes it less intimidating … I always say that everyone should ask all of the women in your lives: When was your last mammogram. Make sure you hold them accountable to stay on top of their health. I think the MammoVan is definitely helping people in South Florida do that.”
Can you explain how your foundation helps women who can’t afford a mammogram or may not have the right insurance, if insured at all?
“That’s really important to us and important to our community. We don’t turn people away because of lack of funds or lack of insurance. From our donations to fund the MammoVan, we also have a separate fund that works directly to help those who don’t have the financial capabilities to get tested. This is something many of us take for granted — the ability to have a mammogram. So, we’re also helping those people by giving them that access.”